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Oneida County ď ˇ

Return Home Early Project Through strong advocacy, collaboration, and family empowerment, the Return Home Early Project identifies children that can be better served at home keeping families together.

What the Research Says… For over a decade, child welfare and mental health systems have realized that long term residential treatment is both ineffective and costly. The 1999 Surgeon General’s report supported these conclusions by stating that there was “weak evidence for their effectiveness.” A child and community’s safety and the ability to receive specialized treatment have been offered as justifi-

it does not decrease the recidivism rate regarding that child’s chances of returning to residential care at some point in the future. Studies show, in fact, that increased residential stays and limited contact with their home and community actually impede a child’s progress in meeting their treatment goals.

cation for out of home residential care. However, research has shown there has been a lack of generalized improvement in either area once the youth has been discharged into their home community. Further research has shown that increased lengths of stay in a residential treatment center does NOT increase the chances of a child being more successful after discharge. Furthermore,

Annual Per Child Cost Comparison

Oneida County Institutional & Group Home Days of Care

(Annual cost per child treated)

(Residential Treatment Center & Group Home Combined)


$34,000 Per Year

} 38,194

$110,870 Per Year


$172,920 Per Year

Intensive Kids Oneida Program Residential Treatment Center Hard To Place Facility

A Difference of

Total Days of Care after the first full year of the Return Home Early Project



Oneida County Return Home Early Project In response to sky rocketing out of home placement numbers and increased financial strain on Oneida County, Kids Oneida dedicated a full time employee to head up a project to identify children in placement that would benefit from intensive community-based services in their home communities. These services, which already existed in the County, would serve as a less intense option for youth to continue their treatment once they have stabilized in out of home placement. This collaborative effort with the Oneida County Department of Social Services (OCDSS), Kids Oneida, placement facilities, families, school districts, and community partners was named the Return Home Early Project.

It was the premise of the Return Home Early Project that at risk youth would be best suited to continue their treatment at home with their family after a short term placement. The program manager would in turn identify children at the Residential Treatment Center or Group Home level of care that fit this mold. At the time of the agreement, Oneida County had 140 children and youth in institutional placement. Many of these children had been court ordered as Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS) or Juvenile Delinquents (JD) because of disruptive behaviors at home, school or community. Often times, placements by the court were mandated for a set period of time which often extended

beyond the time necessary for the children/youth to return to his/her home community. Many of these youth continued to languish in residential care when they could have been better served in a lower level of care or even home, generating unnecessary cost to the County. OCDSS charged the program manager with the ability to provide a neutral assessment of every child’s individual situation that was placed at the institutional level of care. The County has provided a list of every child placed in DSS custody and where they reside. Their placement and demographic information is tracked through a proprietary software program called Client Tracker. This software has the capability

of monitoring movements, outcomes, and readiness of all children in care. The Child Readiness Assessment, created by Kids Oneida, is an evaluation tool that is completed on every child to rate their readiness to return to their home environment. Every child is given a face-to-face interview with their treatment team to better understand the intricacies of each individual’s situation. Family history, school records, and legal involvement are all reviewed during

this process. It is the culmination of this intensive process that provided OCDSS, Family Court, the family, and placement agency a fresh perspective on treatment alternatives to residential placement. Children that were identified at an earlier stage would be better served by community services prior to the expiration of their court order. The efforts of the project further discovered that some children were placed at extraordinary distances from their home. Children

placed from Buffalo, to Watertown, to Albany, to the outskirts of New York City were at incredible distances that made it virtually impossible for parents to remain actively involved in the treatment process. Through strong advocacy, collaboration, and family empowerment, children that could be served at home, in lower levels of care (i.e., foster care), OR closer to home were pursued by the Return Home Early Project.

2008 Return Home Early Project

2009 Return Home Early Project



Number of Kids in Institutional Care

30% of Children Returned Home Early


Days of Care Were Avoided with the Return Home Early Program



Were avoided in 2008 in Residential Placement Costs

32% of Children Returned Home Early

(Residential Treatment Center & Group Home Combined)

140 108



Days of Care Were Avoided with the Return Home Early Program






Were avoided in 2009 in Residential Placement Costs

The average number of placements has decreased 35% in the last 24 months

placements had gone from 140 to 109 children from Oneida County. Continuing momentum in 2009, the project identified an additional 35 children to be discharged home early saving 4,179 days of care or a cost avoidance of roughly 1.4 million dollars. Six additional children were identified for a lower level of care and four transferred closer to home. By the end of 2009, institutional placements began to bottom

out at numbers that had not been seen in some time with only 91 children placed in institutional care, or a difference of 49 children over only two years of implementing the project. Maybe most impressive of all was the low recidivism rate for children returning to care. At approximately 15%, the efforts of Kids Oneida were significantly better than the national average.

Outcomes After its first year as a full time endeavor, the Return Home Early project identified 42 children that would benefit from a discharge early from placement, saving Oneida County 4,755 days of care in 2008. At approximately $320 per day, a cost avoidance of nearly 1.6 million dollars was realized in one year alone. Ten children were moved to a lower level of care and seven moved to a facility closer to home. By the end of 2008, institutional

The Return Home Early Project has been successfully replicated in Herkimer County since 2008 with equally as successful results. For further information please contact Steven Bulger, Director of Operations at 315.731.2603.

Keeping Families Together When every child has a chance to realize his or her potential, our work will be complete. Until then, Kids Oneida commits itself to helping children who suffer from childhood trauma to lead safer, healthier, more productive lives. When a child is raised from reticence to confidence, from despair to hope, we are closer to our goal of making every child a success. It’s nearly impossible for a child who is exposed to trauma on a daily basis to learn anything beyond basic survival. That’s where Kids Oneida comes in. Whatever a child’s past circumstances, we strive to provide a stable environment, a healthy routine, and a strong education. We help families stay together whenever possible and provide a supportive and nurturing alternative when it isn’t. Kids Oneida gives children a chance to fulfill their potential, helping them learn to lead better lives.

Return Home Early Project Goals

Returned Home with Family

Placement closer to home

appropriate Level of Care

Kids Oneida, keeping families together.

“The level of compassion, support, concrete guidance, and above all, sincere interest displayed toward this case far exceeded every expectation we had.”

“The Return Home Early Project helped me to get my life back and get on track. I was able to get back into school, get a job, and will be starting college next week.”

- RK

- TT

Parent of a child returned home early

310 Main Street Utica, New York 13501 315.792.9039 315.792.9578



Child returned home early

“Kids Oneida Return Home Early Project is fantastic!” - ML Child returned home early

Kids Oneida Return Home Early Project  

Return Home Early Project. Through strong advocacy, collaboration, and family empowerment, the Return Home Early Project identifies childre...